As one of the most highly traded commodities in the world, the coffee trade has a direct impact on the lives of thousands of people around the globe. It is our job as consumers to ensure that the coffee we’re drinking has been sustainably sourced and purchased at a price that represents a fair value to producers.
We are not far removed from a time when the coffee trade was characterized by the First World exploitation of coffee growers, and while a great deal of coffee is still bulk-bought at market prices that may dip below the cost of production – we’re looking at you instant-coffee! – we are happy to tell you that improvements have been made. Starting with the Fair Trade movement, which ensures that a sustainable price has been paid to producers and operates through third-party certification, and continuing in recent years with the surge of Direct Trade initiatives, a win-win whereby roasters buy directly from growers and pay a premium price in exchange for the best quality beans, there are now numerous initiatives that ensure your morning ‘cup of joe’ is ethically sourced.
So how can you identify whether your coffee has been purchased at a fair price? Ultimately it comes down to three things: traceability, traceability, traceability. Does your newly purchased bag come with Fair Trade, Direct Trade, or Rainforest Alliance certification? Or at least feature a producer’s name, farm or co-operative? If so, you’re in the clear!
If, however, you’re still unsure about the source of your coffee, we suggest you head out and buy something more traceable. Want to try a locally roasted coffee with the guarantee that it’s been purchased at a price above the fair trade minimum? Then we recommend you stop by Artisan Roast at one their locations in Bruntsfield or New Town.
Wherever you get your coffee, we hope you use your consumer power wisely. Happy Brewing!